White House upgrade ahead of PM's visit

First Lady Melania Trump has overseen White House refurbishments ahead of Scott Morrison's visit.
First Lady Melania Trump has overseen White House refurbishments ahead of Scott Morrison's visit.

She's done a lot with the place.

Like anyone who has ever spruced up their home, Melania Trump will have a few new touches to showcase on Friday when guests visit the White House for only the second state dinner of the Trump presidency.

There's refreshed wall fabric in the Red Room, repurposed draperies in the Green Room and restored furniture in the Blue Room.

Those are just some of the home improvement projects the first lady has overseen to keep the well-trod public rooms at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue looking their museum-quality best.

Some of the projects were long overdue and have been completed ahead of a visit by Prime Minister Scott Morrison.

Sunlight streaming into the Red Room had left some of the wall fabric "so faded it was almost pink," said Stewart McLaurin, president of the White House Historical Association, which helps finance upkeep of some rooms in the 132-room mansion.

First lady Jacqueline Kennedy founded the private, nonprofit organisation in 1961.

"Those rooms should always look their very best and it was just very faded and really, really needed to be done," McLaurin said.

Morrison and his wife, Jenny, and other guests for Friday's three-course dinner in their honour should have an opportunity to check out the updated public rooms.

In her role as caretaker, the first lady - whoever she is - meets regularly with the chief usher, the head curator and other White House staff to figure out what improvements should top the to-do list.

Mrs Trump, who keeps a relatively low profile as first lady, has put her interest in history to use overseeing the restoration projects.

"Our family is grateful to live in this true symbol of our nation's history, but we are even more honoured to play a part in restoring and enhancing our country's sacred landmark," she said at a May reception.

Among the latest improvements she designed a new rug for the Diplomatic Reception Room, the main entrance off the South Lawn, after foot traffic wore a path across the old one, McLaurin said.

The replacement has a border showing the flowers of the 50 states, a touch added by the first lady.

The White House also refreshed draperies in the Green Room by switching material from the backside to the front, eliminating the need - and cost - of replacing the curtains entirely, with only the fringe needing to be replaced.

Last year, Mrs Trump returned to the Blue Room several restored pieces from a historic 53-piece furniture set known as the Bellange suite.

Approximately half a million tourists visit every year, apart from dignitaries and others who attend receptions and other events.

Australian Associated Press